Buongiorno from beautiful Florence. It is currently 7:50am and we slept pretty well last night. It’s been really hard getting into a regular sleeping pattern because we have just been run off our feet and trying to fit everything into the day has hurt the sleep, but last night was good.
This morning we left Sorrento for Pompeii. We had the classic continental breakfast – getting used to croissants for breakfast. We will miss this when we get back to Australia. Then we had to haul our bags up this giant hill, which was an absolute task. I swear we have walked up more hills/steps in this trip than we have in our entire lives – lucky we did a lot of practice for this prior to leaving or else we would have struggled badly.
We drove to the ruins of Pompeii which only took about 40 minutes. There are lots of stray dogs around Pompeii that are apparently fed by the government. They don’t annoy anyone, they just keep to themselves and lay around. There are actually heaps of dogs all around Italy – I don’t know how they don’t all get hit by cars due to how crazy the roads are here.
We had a local guide for Pompeii with the classic radio and headphones set up. The guide’s name was Vincenzo. This tour was better than the Vatican tour. There were less people for one, but we still kind of felt like sheep being herded through there. We could hear him and his stories were interesting, but we would’ve preferred it to be a little slower pace. The ruins are actually incredible and wild to think that it was a big city before being destroyed by Mt Vesuvius. I think if you did not have a tour guide for this though, you would not understand it and you would just be looking at rocks, so that was valuable. There were lots of brothels, apparently Pompeii was a pretty raunchy place.
We did not have long for lunch in Pompeii. They had a little pizza restaurant outside of there and Jimmy said that it was likely our last chance to get good quality pizza because we were leaving the south, so of course we did this. We shared a whole Margherita pizza (which the south of Italy is famous for). It was similar to last night’s pizza (Napoli style) and very delicious. We are really big fans of the minimalist pizza and good quality ingredients. Bellissimo!
Then we had a long drive. Pompeii to Florence with two servo stops included took us about 5.5 hours. It was long, but at least the bus is nicely air conditioned – that was definitely comfortable given how hot it has been here. We arrived at our hotel at about 6pm. It is a chain hotel and is definitely the nicest we have been in yet. The air conditioner works well and we have good water pressure for the shower – game changers.
The group tonight were going out for an included dinner of spaghetti and meatballs and then out for a karaoke night. Aimee and I weren’t keen on either of these things. For one, spaghetti and meatballs isn’t an Italian thing, so we knew the food would be average and we just weren’t keen on having a big night tonight, especially of karaoke. Even though the dinner was included, we decided to go get something else on our own.
We jumped on the coach with the group (everyone was so dolled up, except us) to catch a lift into the city centre of Florence. We then walked a few blocks on our own to get to a restaurant that Jimmy recommended to us. We knew that Florence was famous for a certain steak meal and we were determined to have it. Jimmy said that he knew a restaurant that does a great deal specifically for people that he sends there. It was called “Casa Toscana”. Jimmy’s instructions were to go in there, ask for Salvatore and tell him Jimmy sent us and we want the €35 deal. This was pretty awkward to do and the waiters had no idea how to help us, or understand us but we eventually got Salvatore who was awesome and sorted us out with the deal.
The meal included a starter, the 1kg steak with roast potatoes, tiramisu and a huge bottle of delicious local red wine. The starter was a mix of cured meats, pickled onion, olives and bruschetta. Everything on our plates was delicious. Ronnie’s favourite was the prosciutto and mine (Aimee) was the salami. We then sipped on our wine at our candlelit table and after a while received our steak and potatoes. The steak was cooked rare which is what we requested and was well seasoned. The potatoes were so yummy as well. We managed to finish it all and felt extremely full but had dessert to go. The tiramisu was creamy and definitely better than the one we tried in Rome. We failed to finish the wine because Ronnie would have been a mess. I tried to egg him on for us to finish it but alas, he denied this request.
Huge steak – Delicious!
After dinner we walked around Florence and we came to the Palazzo Vecchio. They had an exhibit going where they were projecting the works of Leonardo Da Vinci on the side of the building and playing renaissance type music. It was absolutely stunning. The building, the art and the music was just incredibly beautiful. There were Italian sculptures around that were lit up in the darkness. It was exactly what we pictured when we thought of Italy. It was magnificent.
After this we decided to grab some gelato (pistachio flavoured again- yum!) and check out the Duomo, which is in the centre of Florence. Wow, we were impressed. Firstly, the building is absolutely enormous. The scale of it is just incredible. It is also so stunningly beautiful. I have never seen anything like it. It is completely captivating to look at. We wanted to stay there all night and look at it.
We took the tram home which was easy peasy and hit the hay from what was an absolutely glorious night in Firenze!
Pizza lunch + Drinks – €14
Cannoli + Drink – €11
Servo snacks – €12
Steak dinner – €70
Gelato – €2.50
Tram tickets – €3
ATM Withdrawal Fee – €3.95
I am starting to think we budgeted way too much for this trip. Another full day in Florence tomorrow!
Ronnie and Aimee